North and South is the tale of two families, the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina. Orry Main and George Hazard meet in their first year at West Point Academy and begin a lifelong friendship – although that friendship will be sorely tempted as the debate over the rights to own slaves threatens to split the country in two. After their military service in the Mexican wars end, George returns to run the family’s iron works and raise his family, while Orry returns to the Main plantation to pine over the woman forever beyond his reach, Madeline LaMott.
“There was a clear rift in the Main household. A rift much like the one his own father said was slowly but inevitably dividing the country.”
I think most everyone has seen the mini-series at least once and knows the basics so I’m not going to rehash them all over again, nor spoil it for those who haven’t. Jakes does have a tendency to stereo-type his characters, and you will definitely notice it here. George’s sister Virgilia is obsessed to the point of madness to free all slaves (of course Jakes must make her sexually frustrated as well as panting after a black man), and the revenge minded Elkanah Bent is badder than bad can be (of course Jakes gives him homosexual tendencies to make him even badder). There’s also Orry’s delightfully OTT evil wicked sister Ashton who can’t keep her hands out of any man’s pants, a woman everyone can love to hate (you will looooove the way she helped several cadets celebrate, and the trophys she took home with her).Despite the flaws, I still found this a compelling read as George and Orry battle to keep their friendship intact as the nation is on the brink of war. A door-stopper at 700+ pages in hardback, this really did move very quickly and the pages literally flew. The next book in the series is Love and War and takes the families and the country through the Civil War.
FTC? Purchased at the used book store.